My week in drawings

IMG_1654.JPG

Today is deadline day for me. The book sketches are finished and soon to be sent off, and I'm taking a moment to experiment with new art supplies for the joy of discovery. Studio time. Nap time. Play time. In that order. That is my day in a nutshell. What are you up to today? 

IMG_1665.JPG

When we got married, our first dance was to Nat King Cole's rendition of "orange coloured sky." Seven years later, on our anniversary, hurricane Ophelia turned the sky above London into an acidic orange colour. The sky was tainted with Saharan sand and smoke from the fires in Portugal. When I looked at the clouds they reminded me of the Sudanese haboobs (dust storms) of my childhood in Africa. It was uncanny, eerie, and beautiful. As the song says: I was walking along, minding my business, When out of the orange colored sky, Flash, bam, alacazam, Wonderful you came by.

IMG_1674.JPG

Thursdays are dance days, and both Mary and I look forward to them with great joy and anticipation. She loves putting on her tutu and ballet shoes and prancing in front of the huge mirrors in the light, airy warehouse studio. I love the fact that I sometimes get to dance with her as her partner. Encouraging her along. Helping with her steps. I miss dancing. And this is one little way to stay connected. 

My week in drawings

IMG_1617.JPG

On grey autumn days I try to find colour anywhere. I love the pop of orange-red that I see out of my bedroom window. The tangle of autumn berries brightens up the neighbourhood. And I often see a sneaky cat surveying the local gardens from the neighbours rooftop.

IMG_1599.JPG

Today has been a grey day. If I didn't know it was impossible, I might actually think the sun had never risen at all, and that we were caught in an eternal gloaming. There is beauty in these days too: soft light, relaxation, and the natural impulse for quiet, solitude and simplicity.

IMG_1584.JPG

Hanging laundry in the fresh air, no matter the season, is one of my simple joys.

IMG_1516.JPG

I recently started using my PowerSheets workbook. It took me a month to get into the routine, but now I feel like it gives me the necessary perspective to simplify my life. While filling out my October tending list I cut down my daily goals from 12 to 4: daily drawings, yoga, journaling and meditation. Now that's successful simplification! I do a lot of other daily tasks, but when life turns upside down, those are the only things that matter. What are your daily habits for tending to your soul?

IMG_1472.JPG

I love watching my daughter discover music and movement at her toddler dance classes. It is joy distilled into movement, and I soak it up vicariously.

IMG_1404.JPG

We love going for a post-nap cycle in the misty, green hills of Richmond park. We keep our eyes alert for deer and rabbits, and cute puppy dogs. The fresh air diffuses the witching hour jitters and when we arrive home it's time for bath, supper and bed.

IMG_1382.JPG

A misty morning walk in Richmond park.

My week in drawings

IMG_1166.JPG

The sunset last night was magical, like someone had made broad brushstrokes across the sky. It's so good to be home, to be sleeping soundly again after a week of jet lag adjustment, and to be anticipating an exciting autumn full of creative work and fun. 

IMG_1223.JPG

Just as the children are heading back to school with excitement and expectation, I am returning to my studio after a summer of travel. I have new projects to start, and a brand-new sketchbook to fill. You can see me flipping through my just-completed sketchbook on my stories. Don't you just love new art supplies? 

Month in review and September Goals

FullSizeRender.jpg

 

And so, the summer has ended. The morning air is crisp and cool, with the scents of falling leaves and ripening apples wafting on the breeze. The light streaming through our window is now thin and golden, like the jewel-like light piercing stained glass windows in an ancient church. There is something reverential about the autumn, and it makes me want to rededicate myself to my vocation (artist, mother, author).

I'm making lists on sticky notes, and they are accumulating around me like piles of brightly coloured autumn leaves.  Lists of things to draw, things to write, things to do with Little One (henceforth known as "Em"). The writing of the lists is as satisfying as doing any of the projects or tasks. They're really just frigates for my dreams, allowing my mind to wander and my hands to scribble. 

The mists and rains of September have rolled in, drenching the garden with soft, silvery drops. Purple leaves scatter our small patch of velvety green grass... made extra soft by the light rains that are as much a slowly descending mist as actual rainfall. Every morning we pop our heads outside to count the "diamond raindrops" hanging on the leaves of the roses and jasmine. The air has burst to life with a thousand fragrances: damp lavender, drooping roses, ripening blackberries in Richmond Park (dark, syrupy and sweet). 

After a deeply inhaling the rich bouquet of autumn, I return back indoors with my cup of coffee to sit in my studio and dream of the month ahead. 

Monthly September Goals

It is a season of intense change and I am relishing the newness of everything. We arrived home from Canada over a week ago, and adjusting to being back home (and the time away) has inspired some changes to our daily routines, either to make things simpler, or more enjoyable. 

This September is a month of NEW: new rhythms, new projects, and a new expectations

Big goals

1. Start my new book project with joy. 

2. Start compiling our annual family photo book. I'm late to start this year, and there will be a lot  photos to sift through. But I'm looking forward to reliving the happy memories we've created as a family. 

3. Write an "I Can Read" level story. I'm struggling to start into any writing projects at the moment, as they all feel too daunting. But an I Can Read story is max 1500 words, so it's something I could draft in a few days; it is a way to dip my feet into the wide ocean of fiction writing again. I'm brainstorming ideas, and hope to have the courage to start soon!

Weekly Goals for September

1. Write more blog posts. 

2. Read a book a week. 

3. Stick to my grocery budget. 

Daily Goals for September

1. Writing

2. Daily drawings

3. Yoga

4. Read a poem a day

5. Play piano

 

Highlights of August

Books Read

This month took literary trips to Florence, Paris and Austin!  

1. "The secret ways of perfume" Cristina Caboni. I loved the way the author used fragrances to show mood and setting in this novel. 

2. "The ingredients of love" Nicholas Barreau. Set in Paris. I'm doing a lot of armchair traveling lately!

3. "Jane of Austin" Hillary Manton Lodge. A fun novel based on Sense and Sensibility and set in Austin Texas. I highly recommend this one!

Now it's your turn! 

What are your goals for the month? What are the accomplishments from the past month that you're proud of? Leave your thoughts in the comments. I'll pick one of you and send you a special surprise from my studio in the mail. I love sending real mail; I love hearing your thoughts; and I love making you happy! 

 

IMG_1163.JPG

Roses and Japanese Anemones from our garden. 

My week in drawings

IMG_0277.JPG

Today has been a hazy, lazy, rainy day. We celebrated a birthday by having home-made carrot cake and banana bread and delicious coffees at beanberry coffee in Kingston. Their shop is like an ancient alchemist's laboratory full of tubes, copper, chrome, and glass bell jars covering succulent pastries. 

IMG_0290.JPG

The recipe for a perfect Sunday night: my favourite jazz playlist on Spotify, our favourite zucchini tomato pasta, and a stack of new books from the library for bedtime. After toddler bedtime it's time to make lists and plan my week. 

IMG_0294.JPG

And.... another children's book is finished and delivered! Now it's time for lots of fun sketches, play dates and outings with my toddler daughter, travel, and artistic experimentation! 

IMG_0307.JPG

This morning Mary and I decided to be adventurous and try another new cafe in town. We loved department of coffee and social affairs in Kingston. The coffee was great and the atmosphere relaxed. We've lived in Kingston upon Thames for a year and a half, and there's still so much to discover. 

IMG_0358.JPG

Old and new rub shoulders in the city of London. This morning I took a few hours off to get a change of scenery. I love the city of London, it exudes such an efficient, stylish, orderly atmosphere. I absorbed a bit of it this morning, and then headed home in time to pick my daughter up from nursery after lunch.This image turned out much more abstract looking than I anticipated. Sometimes city-scapes end up looking like shapes instead of buildings! 

IMG_0455.JPG

The rain is sluicing down the windows and ricocheting off the pavement outside. Supper is simmering and we're warm and cozy inside. It's been a lazy, but also busy, day. Errands in the morning. Naps in the afternoon. Rain on the roof lulling us into a state of relaxation. 

IMG_0458.JPG

My week in drawings

IMG_0215.JPG

This morning Mary and I met our coffee group friends at the "secret" cafe in canbury gardens along the river. The wind teased the pine trees. The waves on the river winked at us through the tall oaks. And we sipped our coffees, licked our ice creams and chatted about our summer plans. 

IMG_0222.JPG

When I need to clear my mind I often step into the garden and inhale the bracing, clean scent of lavender. It sweeps all the cobwebs out of the corners of my mind. Then I can head back to work again. 

IMG_0252.JPG

This morning Mary and I took the train into London to enjoy the sights and sounds of the city. It was a misty, mizzly morning, and it felt like we had the streets to ourselves. We wandered Covent Garden and Waterloo bridge with wide eyes. 

IMG_0264.JPG

Today, amidst deadline prep and housework, I zoomed into town to get some treats for my husband's birthday celebration tomorrow. I took ten minutes to sip a latte and sketched the people around me. I love coffee shops. People chat, read, work, and no matter what they are doing they seem contended and connected: either in conversation or in concentration on a task. A little sketch for a busy day. 

Taking a moment

IMG_0205.JPG

Lately life has felt like a mad dash to the finish line carrying an egg in a spoon and balancing a stack of books on my head. I have an illustration deadline in a week, which has thrown all my carefully balanced schedules into flux. This morning, after a few hours of intense work, I took 30 minutes to sip a hot chocolate and daydream at our local cafe. How's your Monday going?

My week in drawings

IMG_0123.JPG

Last weekend  we went on an "aventure" (as my toddler daughter calls it) and cycled through Richmond park and along the river to Richmond village. Then we had coffee and croissants under the tall, broad plane trees and watched the rowers sculling under the bridge. 

IMG_0159.JPG

I love the sculptural shadows cast by a lovely, big summer hat. It's so fun to play with hats in my drawings. I got this hat years ago when we lived in Cape Town in a small seaside town called Hermanus. 

My week in drawings

IMG_0058.JPG

It is another hot day in London. I took an early walk in the park this morning before I sequestered myself in my studio for a painting session. I loved the interplay between deep shade and brilliant sunshine. The brick wall was like a canvas for light. It was refreshing and inspiring. What do you do to recharge your creative muscles?

IMG_0012.JPG

I felt like I made a revolutionary shift this morning when I successfully wore high heels all morning while running after my toddler. I used to love wearing heels, and I never do any more because I think it's not compatible with motherhood. But I challenged my assumptions today and loved the refreshing change.  

IMG_0032.JPG
IMG_0051.JPG

A portrait of an artist at the end of the day. It's been a busy, happy day. Little One is now tucked into her bed and is softly singing herself to sleep. The birds are singing their evening lullabies. 

IMG_0072.JPG

The highlight of Thursdays is definitely Mary's mini movement dance classes. She learns to move and dance freely and expressively. There are no "rules," only joyful creativity. Her dance teacher is endlessly inventive, and always finds new and exciting ways to entertain the energetic gaggle of toddlers.

IMG_0077.JPG

A symphony in blue. The awnings of our local cafe exactly match the brilliant, hot cloudless sky on a summer's day. I love to pop in just before picking Mary up from nursery for a latte and an Italian treat. It's one of our favourite spots in Kingston upon Thames. 

 

 

Sketching at Strawberry Hill House

IMG_7061.JPG

After a long, dark London winter, it is practically a requirement that your soul bursts out of your sternum with joy with the light returns and colour explodes from every corner of the natural world. 

One such, joyful, exuberant morning we ventured across the river to Strawberry Hill House. It is a jewel-box home, and the inspiration of Horace Walpole, man of letters and gothic novelist. Every corner was bathed in the prismatic light from the stained glass windows. And each room was unique, imaginative and eccentric.

There is always something to be inspired by in our neighbourhood. Sometimes life feels busy and frantic and I forget to "look" around me. If I stop for a moment (even the shortest interval between breaths) and try to really "see," I am always amazed by the beauty surrounding me. 

IMG_7046.JPG
IMG_7037.JPG
IMG_7043.JPG
IMG_7044.JPG
IMG_7051.JPG
IMG_7117.JPG
IMG_7048.JPG